Kidnapping warning goes viral

2016-04-19 06:00
A letter issued by Mitchell’s Plain Primary School on Monday 11 April has been shared on Facebook several times causing a stir in several communities. The school has since issued a second letter explaining the reasons behind it.  PHOTO: Samantha Lee

A letter issued by Mitchell’s Plain Primary School on Monday 11 April has been shared on Facebook several times causing a stir in several communities. The school has since issued a second letter explaining the reasons behind it. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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A letter distributed by a Mitchell’s Plain school has been making waves as far as Strand, Plumstead and the CBD.

On Monday last week, Mitchell’s Plain Primary School in Westridge issued a letter relating to human trafficking and the kidnapping of young girls.

This with the intention of warning parents to be more aware of dangers that could be lurking, says the school.

Dated Monday 11 April, the letter reads: “We have been informed about a group of men, not from South Africa, who are at present kidnapping young primary and senior secondary girls wherever they can find these girls e.g. shopping malls, girls walking to and from school and other places.”

The letter has since gone viral after someone shared a picture of it on Facebook.

Deputy principal Miranda Adams says she meant no harm when issuing the letter.

“It was never my intention to cause panic. We did what we felt was the right thing to do,” Adams told People’s Post.

Adams says a parent informed the school of the matter that is said to be happening in the northern suburbs.
Jessica Shelver, spokesperson to the provincial MEC of education, says the department is aware of the letter.

“According to the school, a parent reported reading about this on Facebook. Our Safe Schools division contacted the school to ask where they obtained this information from. We have not received any reports to verify the Facebook post,” says Shelver.

Adams then issued a second letter on Tuesday (12 April) to correct the first.

“We do not normally overreact to any incidents but it was out of great concern that we warned our learners and parents about what we were informed. Perhaps we overreacted in this instance, something for which we sincerely apologise.”

The letter continues to explain the recent kidnapping incident at another school.

“The above-mentioned incident further encouraged us to warn our learners about the dangers out there that we are warned about, but often take for granted.”

The school confirms no incidents have happened at the school.

“Based on the information we received we have responded. I did not expect the letter to go viral. We issued the letter for the consumption of our school community,” says Adams.

She explained to People’s Post that the school often issues letters on general safety and crime issues to help keep parents abreast of issues that could affect their children.

“Our parents have never complained before,” she says.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. We read of an attempted kidnapping at a neighbouring school and that pushed us over the edge. We felt it was the right thing to do because our children’s safety is of paramount importance to us,” says Adams.

The second letter was not shared on Facebook.

Mitchell’s Plain police spokesperson Lieutenant Ian Williams says officers visited the school on Tuesday.

“This office has made contact with the school regarding the letter. The letter is only for the school parents’ attention as part of an awareness campaign, there has been no incidents of this nature experienced or reported by the school,” says Williams.

“The principal of the school has stated that the contents of this letter has been taken out of context. Police have a good working relationship with schools as the Social Crime Prevention unit has been assigned to the 49 school in our poling precinct. These officers visit the schools on a regular basis and they ensure immediate attention is given to issues about safety of pupils.”

Shelver and police encourage parents to observe safety precautions.

“We have no grounds for believing the post, and recommend that parents and their children exercise the caution that normally applies in everyday situations,” says Shelver.

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